Best Ideas from 2007 F21 National Assembly

Plenary Session Best Ideas

I. Personal Reflections & Connecting to Colleagues: Shaping a Meaningful Career

  • David Statman, Professor of Physics & Chemistry, Chair of the Department of Physics-Allegheny College

Taking time— to reflect on one’s own experiences and style, as well as on how colleagues have charted a meaningful scholarly career— is an important step for faculty at all career stages. The questions, taken from Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, can be used for personal reflections and for connecting to colleagues. By exploring career-related issues, you can compare both your personal reflections and the responses received through interviews with colleagues.

See if through an interview you can identify special practices or strategies that enable people to keep focused, ask the right questions, make a difference for their students, their scholarly field, and their campus community.

  • Pay attention to others; you will learn from them
  • Do not come to the table as a beggar or you will be treated as one
  • Surround yourself with those who share your vision
  • Bad examples can be as important as good examples
  • Having a plan for your career will open you to taking advantage when opportunities arise
  • A leader is an individual who sees the potential in us that we don’t see in ourselves

Other Resources:

II. Asking Critical Questions: A Leadership Responsibility

  • Lee Ann J. Clements, Professor of Biology & Marine Science, Chair of Division of Science & Mathematics-Jacksonville University

An opportunity to hear personal stories of the journey toward leadership and the impact of leaders developing leaders.

Best Ideas:
  • To shape discourse and facilitate change, write the first draft
  • Use PKAL as a “cover” to justify or legitimize making changes
  • Don’t be a reluctant leader
  • Barney Forsythe’s four Leading as… analogies
  • Jeanne Narum as an ideal leader, she’s like the eye of a hurricane, drawing expertise into the vacuum

Other Resources:

III. Developing Leaders Within the Faculty Ranks as Teachers, Scholars & Campus Citizens

As the current context for higher education changes dramatically, with new student populations, more expectations from various publics, greater demands in the workplace, limited budgets, and escalating technological possibilities, Indiana University has looked to faculty leaders to respond to these challenges. The University has long understood the strategic role that faculty play in directing the future of higher education.

As a result, the Faculty Leadership Institute Model was created in 1996 and funded to encourage faculty to seek an understanding of national issues and institutional needs and then to provide leadership on issues beyond their department or school. This model provides the foundation that has enabled faculty to design new freshman learning community programs, teaching strategies for large classes, strategic plans, and diversity programs.

It is an outstanding example of how academic leadership can provide creative solutions for issues and problems in higher education. In 2003, The American Association of University Administrators recognized the Indiana University Leadership Model with the John L. Blackburn Award for Exemplary Leadership.

Best Ideas:
  • Leaders as trustees
  • All of us are leaders, leadership is a collective enterprise
  • Leadership is an action, not a tile
  • Power is energy, not control
  • Individual vs. hierarchical models of leadership

Other Resources:

IV. Making Smart Decisions: A Leadership Opportunity

Determining which strategies fit your goals— given the range of possible options, involves making smart choices about alternatives: considering consequences, exploring and quantifying tradeoff s. First— a reminder: the key to effective decision-making is to be working on something about which you are passionate. Fundamental goals are important because they capture what you ultimately care about, and serve as a platform from which you can evaluate and compare alternatives. In the pursuit of making smart decisions, you must keep asking yourself, “why do I care about this?” Let your goal be your guide; the very process of articulating a goal— thinking it through and writing it down— goes a long way toward helping you make smart decisions about strategies to realize that goal.

In this session, a roadmap will be presented through which you can explore means for reaching your goal by making smart decisions— considering the consequences of alternative strategies, experimenting with a tool that guides the process of making smart decisions. With thanks to my Harvard colleague, Howard Raiffa. An effective decision-making approach:

  • focuses on what is important
  • is logical and consistent
  • acknowledges both subjective and objective factors
  • blends analytical with intuitive thinking
  • requires only as much information and analysis as is necessary
  • encourages and guides the gathering of relevant information and informed opinion
  • is straightforward, reliable, easy to use, and flexible.

Best Ideas:
  • Decision making is a learned skill
  • The decision making process should be transparent
  • Frame a problem well and make sure it is the right problem
  • We have a dual role of leadership and leadership development
Other Resources:
  • Reading recommended by Daniel Goroff:

    "Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions" by J. Hammond, R. Keeney, and H. Raiffa

V. What’s a PKAL? A “Fanciful Horizon” Exercise

The most recent PKAL Volume IV posting begins a series on student learning goals. This series is conceived as a resource for PKAL’s emerging, NSF-funded STEM Faculty Development project. Through essays, stories, interviews, and other materials, we will present insights from reflective practitioners in the field about their work in equipping students to be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, great communicators, and more. The first posting dealt with the goal of “creativity,” a challenge to the community to become more fluent and flexible and intuitive in thinking about how the undergraduate STEM learning environment could be reimagined, as one looks toward the future.

We take the theme of creativity to set the stage for an evening of play for assembly participants. Whether this is your first or your twentieth time at a PKAL event, you have some sense of what PKAL is, of our goal to make a significant contribution to the transformation of the undergraduate STEM learning environment. You may also understand our strategies: to take the kaleidoscopic perspective, focus on what works, bring all the players to the table, serve as an intelligence broker. We all also have a sense of the kind of organization or environment that we like to be a part of: one we can contribute to, benefit from, knowing it is making a difference now and that it will continue to do so.

So, this is a time to play, to engage in the exercise described on the following page.

Best Ideas:
  • We should be like what we want our students to be like
  • Harnessing creativity can build a tangible metaphor
  • A shared understanding can result from the power and promise of creative thinking and metaphor to express ideas

Other Resources:

VI. Making Critical Connections: A Leadership Responsibility

  • Katerina V. Thompson, Director of Undergraduate Research & Internship Programs, College of Chemical & Life Sciences-University of Maryland College Park
  • Nancy Hensel, Executive Officer-Council on Undergraduate Research
  • Theodore Hodapp, Director of Education and Diversity Programs-American Physical Society
  • Mary M. Kirchhoff, Director of the Education Division-American Chemical Society
  • Catherine Mader, Associate Professor of Physics, Hope College, Visiting Scholar (2007-2008)-American Institute of Physics

Leaders, as scholars and citizens, make a difference in context, in the various communities to which they belong. Reflecting on the Assembly discussions to this point, panelists and participants will explore how to identify and shape opportunities for leadership within and beyond the campus— at the local, state, national, and international level.

Best Ideas:
  • Make connections at all levels (department, campus, community, state, regional, national, international)
  • Connect to a variety of organizations (K-12 schools, community colleges, rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, boy and girl scouts, professional societies, funding agencies, etc.)
  • Volunteer to referee proposals for granting agencies
  • Invite elected officials and legislative staffers to tour labs and attend research symposia to point out everyone and everything with public funding

Other Resources:

VII. What Works: Goals & Strategies for Changing the World

  • Robert Ekey, Assistant Professor of Physics-University of Mary Washington

  • Daniel Wubah, Associate Provost for Undergraduate

    Do you wake up on certain days feeling you are ready to change the world? Do you consider the resources that you have to make the changes? What about the risks involved in making these changes? We confront these questions in our daily lives because we care about making a positive difference. As campus leaders, at times we wonder why we are not making these changes. As PKAL members, we care about our students and how to prepare them for the future. Our commitment to change the world by helping our students to succeed requires our “seeing” beyond what they can see. In this session, we will explore characteristics and strategies that can help improve our chances of making this difference.

Best Ideas:
  • Create an “idea book” and a “people book”
  • Set aside time each day for reflection to process and plan for the next day and the future
  • Visionary leaders grow the people around them, creating opportunities for others and mentoring others to replace them
  • The path may not be clear, but a visionary leader moves forward with intuition, taking risks and leaps of faith, to explore uncharted waters

Other Resources:

  • Session III PowerPoint
  • An Interview with Daniel Wubah
  • Readings recommended by Daniel Wubah:

    Goffee, Rob and Jones, Gareth. "The Price and Prize of Leadership" Leader to Leader. 42: 41-46.

    Goodwin, Doris Kearns. 1998. "Lessons of Presidential Leadership" Leader to Leader. 9: 23-30.

    Sherman, Stratford. 2003. "Rethinking Integrity" Leader to Leader. 28: 39-45.